The Global Methane Pledge

The US and EU Take an Important Step

I have written before about the importance of taking action quickly to reduce and eliminate methane emissions, including here.  On Friday, the US and EU announced a Global Methane Pledge, which the UK and others immediately joined.  The Pledge received limited press coverage, but it is an important step that will lead to real action, particularly if more nations join the Pledge in the run-up to COP 26 in November.  Here are the basics:

  • The Pledge aims to achieve a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.
  • Countries that commit to the pledge are asked to take comprehensive domestic actions to achieve that global target, focusing on standards to achieve all feasible reductions in the three main methane emitting sectors: energy, waste, and agriculture.
  • Countries also commit to move towards improved emissions inventory methodologies as a sound basis for further policy development.
  • Commitments and progress toward the 30% reduction target will be reviewed annually at a dedicated ministerial meeting.

A worldwide methane emission reduction of 30 percent by 2030 could reduce global warming by .22 degrees by 2050 because of both the reduced emissions and the dissipation of methane in the atmosphere, potentially allowing the world a bit more time to reduce and sequester other greenhouse gases.

California’s 2016 law, SB 1383, requires a 40 percent reduction from 2013 levels, which is comparable to the 30 percent reduction from 2020 levels identified in the Global Methane Pledge.  California already has regulations in place for reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and is working on regulations for the agriculture and waste sectors, all of which provide a useful roadmap.  In addition, California is a partner in the Carbon Mapper initiative to use satellites to identify methane emissions worldwide. California is well-placed to provide world leadership on this issue through implementation of the reduction goals.  That is the essential next step for those that join the Global Methane Pledge.

Methane is finally beginning to receive the attention it deserves, and this is poised to continue at COP 26.  At CLEE, we are working on a framework for methane emissions from the agriculture sector, and aim to share that framework soon.

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About Ken

Ken is the director of Project Climate at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy, & Environment. He spent eight years as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brow…

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